by: Mike Ginsca,
Move over BMW, Mercedes-Benz has brought back the inline-6 engine. The E53 AMG gets the new inline-6 engine that was first introduced in the Mercedes S-class a few years ago. So is this new engine any good?
Engine – In a word, yes. This new inline-6 displaces 3.0L and is turbocharged which makes for 429 hp and 384 lb-ft of torque. But this engine is also equipped with a 48 volt mild-hybrid system. What that does is not only save fuel but can also provide brief moments of power to the engine. That power equates to 21hp and 184 lb-ft of torque.
But there’s more to it than just raw power. It’s also quite clever. The hybrid system can power the A/C pump & the water pump, it acts like a starter/generator which makes for very smooth auto start/stop at traffic lights, and it also powers an electric compressor which can spin to 70,000 rpms and reduce turbo lag. So when you put your foot down, you can get max boost even at low rpms. And best of all fuel economy is really good for a car of this size at 8.5 L/100km (27.7 mpg) on a highway and 12.3 L/100km (19.1 mpg) in a city.
Transmission – Shifting is done by a 9-speed automatic transmission. It doesn’t matter what drive mode you’re in because it shifts very quickly and smoothly. It’s not a dual clutch transmission but, as near as makes no difference, as fast as one.
Braking – Stopping the E53 AMG is no problem thanks to the 370mm front discs and 4-piston fixed calipers. In everyday driving, you barely have to apply any pressure to stop the car. Under more spirited drives, the pedal feels firm and it gives you the confidence to stomp on it with force. Emergency automatic braking is also standard.
Handling – The E53 is only available with 4Matic AWD, which I really don’t mind when it rains 366 out of 365 days of the year here in Vancouver. But it’s not just regular 4Matic, it’s 4Matic+. On the E63, the plus adds a race and drift mode. Unfortunately on this E53, it doesn’t have those modes. But it still feels like a more rear biased AWD system. So if you’re not careful and you have stability control turned off, you can still get the back end to step out of line just a bit.
But when you just want to set lap times on a track or have some fun on a mountain road, the E53 AMG has tonnes of grip. You do feel the weight going through a fast corner but the steering feel is quite good for a luxury coupe like this.
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Ride Comfort – The Mercedes E53 AMG comes equipped with air suspension that can change stiffness depending on which mode you’re in. In Comfort mode, it absorbs bumps and road imperfections with ease. In Sport mode it reduces more of the body-roll and in Sport+ it becomes much more stiff but not completely uncomfortable to the point it breaks your back.
The seats further add to the comfort by providing good support as well as a massaging feature. They are of course heated and ventilated and it also features heated armrests on the door panels and center console. A pretty cool feature.
Interior Space – At 6’4” I have just enough space in the front for my long legs and head. However I did have to put the seat all the way at the bottom and have a slight recline of the seat back. In the back there are only 2 seats and while there is a tiny bit more space than in other coupes, it’s not a place where you want to find yourself if you’re an adult. The rear trunk is quite generous for space at 425L (15 cu-ft).
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – Although this is not the E63 with the V8, this inline-6 still produces some nice tones. At higher rpms it is a screamer and with each upshift, there’s a pop that comes from the exhaust. When you take your foot off the throttle, the exhaust crackles and pops which further adds to the driving enjoyment. But when you want to behave like a civilized person, the E53 is nearly as quiet as an S-class.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – Tick off all the boxes on the options list and what was an $86,000 CAD coupe is now a $115,000 CAD coupe. But for all that you get a full suite of safety features like emergency automatic braking, lane keep, blind spot sensors, adaptive cruise, and even Mercedes’ new Car-to-X communication which can alert other drivers of a road hazard if another Mercedes vehicle with this system has encountered it. So for example, if another Mercedes vehicle with this system was involved in a crash, it could relay that information to you to give you a heads up of the road conditions ahead.
In terms of entertainment, this E53 uses the older COMMAND system instead of the new MBUX infotainment but it’s still easy to navigate with the rotary knob or with the Blackberry-like touchpad on the steering wheel.
Exterior Design – From the outside, the E53 AMG looks as a luxury coupe should look. Subtle but still have a presence. This being an AMG model, the exhaust count is no less than 4, big 20” wheels encompass the big brake calipers, and a different grille design up front to finish off the AMG look. I think it looks great.
Interior Design – With their latest vehicles, Mercedes-Benz has been on point with the look and feel of the interior. The leather is soft, the few plastics that they use feel like of a higher quality, and the metal is real metal. Their ambient lighting system is also on point with multiple colours to choose from to bathe the cabin. Best of all, it doesn’t feel like it’s overdone or distracting at night.
Overall I like the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E53 AMG. Yes, I would prefer to have the new MBUX infotainment and if it were my money, I’d probably go for the wagon version instead of the coupe. But the highlight is definitely the new Inline-6 with the EQ boost. Sure the soundtrack of the V8 and the power isn’t the same but it’s still plenty of power, less expensive, and much more fuel efficient.
Thank you to Mercedes-Benz Canada for providing the vehicle. www.Mercedes-Benz.ca
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Editor at large and gearhead. Can drive anything on 4 or 2 wheels... sometimes 3 wheels too.